Now that economies are struggling, it’s a good idea to look at some previous collapses. Hundreds of orchards, for one, have disappeared in northern Washington in the last dozen years. At first they’re replaced by hay, but that rarely lasts:
Orchard with Abandoned Hay Equipment
Tonasket, Washington. Notice the Black Sage in the foreground.
This recent abandonment isn’t the first setback to farming in this area. Here is an example of the collapse that preceded this one:
On its way to becoming an orchard in the first place.
It really does seem that any farm that does not adopt an economic model as its relationship to the land will quickly become a ruin. Well, maybe not a ruin, though. How long does it take for an abandoned orchard to become a landscape of bunchgrass and black sage again? Judging by the following photograph, perhaps as little as twenty years:
The Black Sage is wasting no time in marching down these cutbanks and across this road.
Apparently, it won’t take long.
In this landscape, it is always the Time of Starting Over. Aiding that process is the real work.
The land seems to have the same idea.